43 Humour with a Bite

British Columbia
British Columbia
Anne Fleming British Columbia

Anne Fleming is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Anomaly as well as Pool-Hopping and Other Stories, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Danuta Gleed Award. Three of the stories in her latest collection, Gay Dwarves of America, have won National Magazine Awards, and the title story was shortlisted for the Journey Prize. She divides her time between Vancouver and Kelowna, where she teaches at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Read more

Chan Koonchung China

Chan Koonchung was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong. He has previously written several works of non-fiction, a novel and short stories. The Fat Years is his first novel to be translated into English. Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month, which was erased from official Chinese history.In 1976, Chan founded the influential City Magazine in Hong Kong, where he was editor-in-chief and then publisher for 23 years. He lives in Beijing. Read more

Shari Lapeña Ontario

Shari Lapeña worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. Her first novel, Things Go Flying, was shortlisted for the 2009 Sunburst Award. Her second novel, Happiness Economics, was a finalist for the 2012 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. She has been featured in the Dalhousie Review andthe Globe and Mail, and is an alumnus of the Humber School for Writers. Lapeña lives in Toronto and is currently at work on her third novel.  Read more

Emily Schultz Ontario

Emily Schultz’s acclaimed books include Black Coffee Night, a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award, Joyland and Heaven is Small, a finalist for the 2010 Trillium Award. Her writing has appeared inthe Globe and Mail, Eye Weekly, The Walrus, Geist and several anthologies. Schultz also edits an influential website called Joyland, which publishes short fiction and commentary from across North America. Her new novel is The Blondes. She lives in Toronto and New York. Read more

Linda Svendsen British Columbia

Linda Svendsen’s linked collection of short stories, Marine Life, was nominated for the LA Times First Book Award and released as a feature film. Svendsen’s television writing credits include an adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners; and she co-produced and co-wrote the TV miniseries Human Cargo, which garnered seven Gemini Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. She is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. Her new novel is Sussex Drive.  Read more

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Performance Works
$17 / $8.50 for student groups

Click here to order school group tickets.

Enjoy a morning of absurdity. Chan Koonchung’s biting satire is set in modern China sometime in the near future. “So far the Chinese authorities have not come to me,” says Chan, who lives in Beijing. Scathing political satire is safer for Linda Svendsen, whose satirical romp is inspired by recent events in Canadian federal politics. Emily Schultz turns the blonde cliché on its head as deadly blondes terrorize New Yorkers. Anne Fleming’s short story collection, Gay Dwarves of America, brings compassion to those who have been treated as carnival creatures. Finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Shari Lapeña tackles the meaning and relevance of poetry. 

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View the study guide for this event.

Humour with a Bite

Curriculum Connection:

  • Language arts: poetry, fiction, satire
  • Social Studies: Canadian Politics


  • Ask students to respond to the following prompt, written on the board prior to class: “What is satire? Where might you find examples of satire in the media?” Allow students a few minutes to respond, and then ask them to share their definitions and examples with the class. You may wish to examine and discuss a dictionary definition of satire by asking a student to look up the term and read aloud to the class. Merriam-Webster online dictionary (http://www.m-w.com) offers the following definitions of satire:

1: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn

           2: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly. 

  • Finally, you may wish to share and discuss the following quotation from eighteenth century Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift: “Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own, which is the chief reason so few are offended by it.”
  • Individually, or in groups, students create their own political satire in the form of a skit, news article, or cartoon. Political satires may be shared and discussed in a future class.

Further Questions for Discussion:

  • To what extent should real news sources be held accountable for their mistakes or false reports?
  • What is your opinion of “infotainment,” or the increasingly blurry lines between news reporting and entertainment?